Thales Alenia Space today announced that it has completed integration of the third ICC (Integrated Cargo Carrier), the service module for the ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), on behalf of the European Space Agency. ESA has accepted a proposal by the Italian space agency ASI, which has been actively involved in this program since the outset, that the newest ATV be named in honor of the great Italian physicist and space science pioneer, Edoardo Amaldi (1908-1989). Saturday, December 18th, ATV3-Amaldi was shipped from Thales Alenia Space's integration center in Turin, Italy to the Bremen, Germany facility of program prime contractor Astrium Space Transportation.
As for the first Jules Verne ATV, which completed its mission in 2008, and the Johannes Kepler ATV, set for launch in early 2011, the Edoardo Amaldi ATV will now undergo a series of integrated tests. It will then be shipped to the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana for a scheduled early 2012 launch to the International Space Station.
The unmanned ATV will automatically dock with the ISS, so it can transfer experimental equipment, spare parts, food, air and water for the crew. In addition to the three tons of cargo carried by the pressurized ICC module, built by Thales Alenia Space, it will also bring over two tons of fuel to reboost the Space Station, plus 860 kg of ISS refuel propellant, up to 540 of water, also produced in Turin by SMAT, and over 100 of gas. The ATV cargo transfer operations will be carried out by the ISS crew using control and monitoring systems in the ICC, also developed by Thales Alenia Space.
"Thales Alenia Space, and especially the Turin plant, are now working full speed ahead for the ATV program," said Luigi Maria Quaglino, Senior Vice President, Space Infrastructure and Transportation Business Unit at Thales Alenia Space. "In fact, work is already underway on the new ATV 4 and 5, which will feature certain improvements. Furthermore, with the Space Station's operating life now being extended until 2020, more ATVs will undoubtedly be needed and our company will be able to promptly meet this requirement."
The third ATV-ICC module built by Thales Alenia Space comprises a pressurized cylinder 4.6 meters in diameter and 4 meters long, including the ISS docking system at the front, and a non-pressurized area 0.7 meters long including the refueling system and the water and oxygen supply tanks.
The sensors, antenna and some part of the attitude control thrusters for navigation and the ISS docking phase, are integrated in the ICC module. All electronic control equipment for ISS docking phase is integrated in the ICC module. This equipment is adapted from components used on Russia's Progress and Soyuz vehicles, and was supplied by RSC-Energia.
Thales Alenia Space played a pivotal role in the production of the third ATV:
. Design and construction of the ICC, including the passive thermal protection system and participation in system testing and integration.
. Preparations for the operational phase, especially for cargo integration and management, and also for the in-orbit phase, as an integral part of the mission control team.
. Development and construction of the solar array drive subsystem, which keeps the solar panels pointed towards the Sun, and transfers the energy generated by these panels to the power subsystem in the ATV service module.
. Four power conditioning units (PCU), which distribute power to certain parts of the ATV.
. Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TTC) communications components, operating via NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS).
. Local communications system, handling communications between the ATV and the ISS during the final approach and docking phase.
Thales Alenia Space is now building nine Pressurized Cargo Modules (PCM) for the International Space Station, to be carried by the Cygnus spacecraft, as part of the CRS (Commercial Resupply Services) contract awarded by NASA to Orbital Sciences. It is also developing the IXV (Intermediate eXperimental Vehicle) atmospheric reentry system for ESA, and has signed a contract for the development of EXPERT (EXPErimental Reentry Testbed), to support research on atmospheric reentry technologies.
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